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Joanne Beattie

Assistant Financial Controller, Nestle

"CIMA covers a broad range of accounting techniques and concepts and through successfully completing the AAT qualification I was exempt from all CIMA certificate level exams"

Education: AAT Level 4

Why did you choose to study CIMA after AAT?
I chose to study CIMA after AAT as I recognised that CIMA is a very valuable professional qualification, and after studying AAT alongside working in a finance department at Nestle I knew management accountancy was the right choice for me.

To enable me to progress my career within Nestle, holding a professional qualification such as CIMA was essential.

It opens so many doors in terms of career progression; significantly increases an individual’s non-financial and financial skill set and holding a professional qualification significantly increases your earning potential.

Please tell us what the similarities are between the two qualifications and how well AAT prepared you for studying CIMA.
Studying AAT gave me the assurance that a career in finance was the right path for me to take.

AAT gave me the basic knowledge required to be able to study CIMA effectively. The modules on book keeping, basic costing, budgeting and accounts preparation were particularly useful.

The knowledge I gained through AAT enabled me to learn and grasp the concept of the more complex areas of the CIMA syllabus much more easily than I would have had I not studied AAT before CIMA.

Please tell us why you chose to study CIMA instead of another professional qualification.
The CIMA qualification is highly regarded and I felt it was the most relevant to the manufacturing industry; it’s also the preferred qualification at Nestle.

CIMA covers a broad range of accounting techniques and concepts and through successfully completing the AAT qualification I was exempt from all CIMA certificate level exams.

How long after you completed your AAT studies did you study CIMA? What would you recommend is a good time period to leave between studying the two qualifications?
I started studying towards my CIMA qualification three years after completing my AAT qualification.

I would recommend a shorter gap than this, as I found it really hard to get back into studying, however I decided to wait until I was in a role which I could relate more to the CIMA syllabus so I could really put what I was learning into practice.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification after AAT?
I studied AAT on day release, so it didn’t affect my personal life too much; however CIMA was a completely different story!

Anyone thinking of studying CIMA after AAT must ensure they are committed to the qualification and ensure they are willing to dedicate their spare time to studying.

Although there are various ways of studying CIMA, such as day release, weekend courses and night courses, the volume of work is significantly higher than AAT and leaves you with a limited social life for a good few months of the year!

It is definitely worth it though, and I have met some great people through attending college and studying CIMA.

Please describe your current role and what you most enjoy about it
My current role as assistant financial controller is to provide a comprehensive support service to the factory and to generate data which allows the factory management team to make informed decisions.

The role involves preparing and analysing variance information, product costing, heightening commercial awareness in the factory, project management, ensuring compliance with accounting standards and preparing the operational plan, monthly and year end book closes. All of these tasks had a heavy presence in the CIMA syllabus.

The role is very varied, and this is what I enjoy the most about this role. I work across various different departments and with many different people; from engineers to production staff to the factory leadership team.

I also represent finance at brand development meetings which allows me to connect with a wide network of teams such as marketing and supply chain.

Is there anything unusual about your role?
My role is very varied and I often get involved in tasks which are not related to finance at all, from leading projects to reducing consumer complaints, working on the production lines during product trials to checking (and tasting!) lots of chocolate at 10am every morning to ensure it is suitable to be released out of the factory.

How do you see CIMA contributing to your future career progression?
The CIMA qualification has already contributed to my career progression and success at Nestle.

When I started the CIMA qualification I was a trainee management accountant, I then progressed to a management level role as assistant financial controller and will shortly be moving to a new role as the management accountant for our third party operations.

Without the CIMA qualification the latter two roles would not have been possible.

CIMA has also given me the opportunity to gain an additional qualification. After becoming a member of CIMA I successfully completed a BA Honours in Sustainable Performance Management.

This course was a distance learning course offered by Manchester Metropolitan University whom CIMA have partnered with.

This additional qualification and the nature of the qualification, being linked to sustainability, will significantly increase my employment potential and career prospects at Nestle.

If the CIMA qualification were a holiday destination, where would it be and why?
The Himalayas in Asia. Trekking across the Himalayas is hard work, takes a lot of energy and motivation but is incredibly rewarding when you finally reach the end. It also provides you with skills and experience that will stay with you for life.

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